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Joe Iconis' LOVE IN HATE NATION Preps For World Premiere At Two River Theater; Companion Events Announced


Joe Iconis' LOVE IN HATE NATION Preps For World Premiere At Two River Theater; Companion Events Announced

Rehearsals have begun and it feels like sha la la for Love in Hate Nation, an original rock romance set in a 1960s Juvie Hall that features book, music and lyrics by Tony Award nominee Joe Iconis, directed by John Simpkins.

Love in Hate Nation has music direction and vocal arrangements by Annastasia Victory, music supervision and orchestrations by Charlie Rosen, and choreography by Mayte Natalio.

Performances will begin in Two River's Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, on Saturday, November 9 and continue through Sunday, December 1. The opening night performance is Friday, November 15 at 8pm. Tickets are available from 732.345.1400 or

Love in Hate Nation uses classic "bad girl" movies as the inspiration for the story of young people caught between eras of a changing America. Sixteen-year old Susannah Son is carted off to the National Reformatory for Girls (a.k.a. Nation) to get her head put on straight. There she meets the aggressively incorrigible Sheila Nail, and a relationship forms which leads to an all-out "revolution in the institution" as they attempt to break out of the boxes society has created around them. Girl Group Wall of Sound harmonies are filtered through a punk rock spirit in this rebellious and romantic new musical.

Joe Iconis is the Tony Award-nominated composer/lyricist of the worldwide sensation Be More Chill. Iconis and Joe Tracz wrote Be More Chill as a commission for Two River Theater, where the show was developed and premiered in 2015 before going on to a sold-out limited engagement Off-Broadway and Broadway run. Director John Simpkins has worked with writer Joe Iconis on six projects prior to Love in Hate Nation, including Bloodsong of Love, The Black Suits and all 11 years of the Joe Iconis Christmas Extravaganza. He is Head of Musical Theatre at Penn State School of Theatre, where Love in Hate Nation was commissioned and developed.

The cast of Love in Hate Nation, previously announced, includes Sydney Farley (Gloria "Ya Ya" Meeks), Amina Faye (Susannah Son), Jasmine Forsberg (Brenda "Rat" Ratowski), Lauren Marcus (Miss Asp), Kelly McIntyre (Sheila Nail), Lena Skeele (Dorothy Donaldson), Emerson Mae Smith (Kitty Minx), Ryan Vona (The Guy), and Tatiana Wechsler (Judith Ramone).

The design team includes scenic designer Meredith Ries, costume designer Karen Perry, lighting designer Isabella Byrd, and sound designer Palmer Hefferan. The hair & wig designer is J. Jared Janas and the fight director & intimacy consultant is Rocío Mendez. The casting is by Telsey + Casting, Rachel Hoffman, CSA and Lily Schneider. The assistant stage manager is Nicole Kuker and the production stage manager is Amanda Michaels.

Ticket prices range from $40 to $70, with discounts available for groups, seniors, and U.S. military personnel, their families, and veterans. A limited number of $25 tickets are available for every performance; $25 tickets may be partial view. Tickets for patrons under 30 are $25 and include the best available seats at every performance. Tickets are available from or 732.345.1400.

Inside Two River is a series of arts & humanities events that are curated for each production. Multiple events take place each month and most are free. To RSVP for any event at Two River Theater, visit or call 732.345.1400.

A Partnership with DETOUR Gallery

On October 11, community members joined artist Holly Suzanne Rader in painting the background of an 8' x 16' mural inspired by the characters of Love in Hate Nation. The mural will be on display for public viewing at Two River Theater throughout the run of the show.

Friday, October 18 | 7:00 PM | FREE | A Partnership with School of Rock, Red Bank

The School of Rock house band will perform a free gig featuring songs and sounds in the spirit of Love in Hate Nation.

Sunday, October 20 | 7:30-8:50 PM at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City

Writer Joe Iconis and director John Simpkins discuss the turbulent rock romance Love in Hate Nation with moderator Laura Heywood, and cast members perform highlights prior to its world premiere at the Two River Theater. Tickets range from $25 - $90.

To RSVP for the Guggenheim Works & Process, visit

Monday, October 28 | 6:30 PM | FREE

Long before the Stonewall riots, ONE magazine was the first openly gay magazine in the United States that offered a positive viewpoint of homosexuality and encouraged gay people to resist discrimination and persecution. Letters to ONE is comprised of letters written to the magazine from their readership. In connection with Love in Hate Nation, the Two River Book Club will discuss sexuality, family, love, and rebellion in the 1950s and 1960s.

Friday, November 2 | 7:00 PM | FREE

Two River's first Pride Night of the 2019/20 Season welcomes all members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies for a night of performance, food, fun and friends, emceed by drag queens Lady Celestina and Rhedd Rhumm.

Thursday, November 7 | 7:00 PM | FREE | A Partnership with TEDxAsburyPark

TEDxAsburyPark Salons feature curated talks by TEDx speakers and Two River Theater artists and staff. Confirmed speakers for this salon include Michele Mitchell and Olive Persimmon.


Monday, November 11 | 7:00 PM | FREE | A Partnership with Monmouth University

The 1960s in the United States was a powder keg of equal rights movements, anti-war protests, and counterculture. With revolution sparking throughout the country, musicians were creating music that reflected the urgency of the times and incited continued rebellion. Joe Rapolla, Chair of Monmouth University's Music and Theatre Department, will discuss how music has been used as a vehicle for political change from the 1960s to today.

Joe Iconis AND Jennifer Ashley Tepper IN CONVERSATION
Thursday, November 19 | 7:00 PM | FREE

Joe Iconis is known for drawing on a wide variety of inspirations in his work, from 1960s girl group pop to Robert Altman movies, from 1980s sci-fi to the Muppets. But the man who The New York Times calls "the future of musical theatre" is also-of course-a musical theater geek at heart. At this special event, Iconis and his frequent collaborator, theater historian and producer Jennifer Ashley Tepper, will explore the shows, writers, and songs that have inspired him. From Cabaret to Follies, from Hedwig and the Angry Inch to Little Shop of Horrors, from Passing Strange to Carrie, how have the musicals Iconis has obsessed over as a fan shaped him as a writer? Don't miss this unique chance to discover how one of the great theater writers of a new generation has found his place in Broadway history.

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